The Power-Hungry EU

“We have got a monetary federation. We need quasi-budget federation as well …

We need quasi-federation of the budget.”

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet, The Guardian, 1-12-2010

“I deeply respect our Irish friends’ independence … but they cannot continue to say ‘come and help us’ while keeping a tax on company profits that is half [that of other countries]. We cannot speak about economic integration without the convergence of fiscal systems.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, The Irish Times, 14-1-2011

“We have a shared currency but no real economic or political union. This must change. If we were to achieve this, therein lies the opportunity of the crisis …

And beyond the economic, after the shared currency, we will perhaps dare to take further steps, for example for a European army.”

–  German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Open Europe international press survey, 13 May 2010

“The two pillars of the Nation State are the sword and the currency, and we have changed that.”

EU Commission President Romano Prodi, The Guardian, 1999

Next month, March 2011,  the EU Commission will propose supranational legislation for a uniform system of assessing business taxes in the EU – a Common Consolidated Tax Base.

This proposal for  what are called “destination taxes”  will undermine Ireland’s 12.5% company tax rate. It put on hold in 2008 and 2009 to help get the Lisbon Treaty referendums through in Ireland.

The idea is that firms selling goods in different EU countries would pay corporation tax to those countries’ governments based on the profits on their sales in those countries, and not to the government of the country where the goods were originally made, as happens now.

Countries would continue to decide their own tax rates as at present. This means Ireland could keep its 12.5% Corporation Profits Tax for profits made on sales in Ireland, but not on profits made on sales abroad.  The attraction to foreign investors of Ireland’s low corporation tax regime would be fundamentally subverted by this step, for most of their profits would be taxed in the countries where their goods or services were sold and not in Ireland where they are produced.

This step does not require unanimity amongst all 27 EU States. It can be done  by a sub-group of nine or more Eurozone States under the “enhanced cooperation” provisions of the Treaty of Nice, even though many or most of the other EU Members are against it.  The EU institutions can then be used to  advance further integration by this sub-group. This provision drove the proverbial coach and horses through the notion which some people believed in: namely, that the EU is some kind of “partnership of equals” in which no fundamental change can be made without all 27 Member States agreeing.

In March too the European Council will finalise arrangements for an amendment to the Lisbon/EU Treaties to set up a permanent “Financial Stabilisation Fund” from 2013, to which Ireland would be expected to contribute, without allowing the Irish people to vote on it in a referendum.

The German paper Handeslblatt reports that a “historic” change of EU policy is now under way in Berlin, with Germany no longer opposing Eurozone economic government. The new plan envisages the 17 Eurozone countries being pushed towards “harmonization” of their State Budget policies.  On taxation levels, wages of public officials and retirement ages, Eurozone countries would have to commit to binding common “bandwidths”, with penalties such as fines for any breaches.

The EU/IMF loan – better called a “stitch-up” rather than a “bail-out”! –  that was pushed on the Irish Government by the European Central Bank last November puts Ireland in a weak position to resist these further transfers of power to Brussels and Frankfurt. They underline once more the folly of our joining the Eurozone in 1999, when we could have stayed outside it like 11 of the 27 EU Member States.

It is now clear to all thinking people that joining the Eurozone  was the worst and most irresponsible decision of any Irish Government – ever.

The politicians of the three main parties who pushed that ruinous course upon us are the real perpetrators of “economic treason” in Ireland, of which our emigrating young people, our 400,000 unemployed and our debt-ridden households are the manifest current victims.

N.B. Note that from 2014, just three years time, the Lisbon Treaty/EU Constitution which was also pushed on us by Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour will put EU-law making on a straight population basis, with Germany’s vote on the Council of Ministers doubling from its present 8% to 17%, France’s, Britain’s and Italy’s vote going from their present 8% each to 12% each, and Ireland’s falling from its present 2% to 0.8%.

The proposals mentioned above are but a foretaste of many more EU diktats to come, once Germany, France and the other big EU States obtain this big increase in their EU law-making power.

(11 February 2011)

Wake Up Time for Ireland! Public Enquiry Needed

A public enquiry is needed into how the Irish people have been turned into indentured debtors of the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF.

We need to know this if we are ever to recover.  We need to know who was ultimately responsible for the situation we now find ourselves in, trapped inside the Eurozone when we did not need to join it.

EU Member States outside the Eurozone like Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Poland and the Czech Republic are not caught up in the current torments of the Euro. They can weather the economic recession better because they have kept their national currencies and with it control of their rate of interest or exchange rate.

Most Irish economists, the National Platform and several non-governmental groups warned at the time of our 1992 Maastrict Treaty referendum that abolishing the Irish pound would be the biggest mistake the Irish State ever made (John FitzGerald’s ESRI was an influential exception). The second biggest mistake – largely a consequence of the first –  was the 2008 blanket guarantee of all the debts of our private banks

The period 1993 to 2000 was the only period in the history of the Irish State when it followed an independent exchange rate policy and effectively floated the Irish currency. That gave us a highly competitive exchange rate and with it  the “Celtic Tiger” growth rates of over 7% a year.

It is impossible to have a lasting monetary union that is not also a fiscal union, part of one State, with common taxes and a common budget.  However Ireland’s Euro-fanatics pushed us into the Eurozone against all the economic arguments.  They were impelled by their zeal to help build an EU superstate led by Germany and France, without any national democratic control.

Such a construct would inevitably lack the mutual identification and solidarity between its members which would sustain transfers from the rich countries to the poorer ones sufficient to compensate the latter for loss of their capacity to run independent budgetary policies or restore their economic competitiveness through currency devaluation.

It was profoundly irresponsible to abolish the Irish pound in order to join a monetary union with States with which we did only one-third of our foreign trade, while simultaneously halving interest rates at the height of an economic boom.

That made things “boomier”, as Taoiseach Bertie Ahern put it. It set us on the borrowing binge that followed, and the catastrophic course Ireland’s Government has since taken with its Banks.

It is the grand panjandrums of Irish Euro-fanaticism: Peter Sutherland of Goldman Sachs, Garret FitzGerald, Alan Dukes, Pat Cox, Brigid Laffan, Brendan Halligan, Ruairi Quinn and David Begg, who ultimately impelled us to surrender our political independence and democracy in the Eurozone.

As influential, although their names are unknown to the public, are the “career federalists” of Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Department in Iveagh House, who form the policy and write the speeches of successive Foreign Ministers. They are keeping their heads down these days and are happy to let the Department of Finance take the rap for our current economic debacle.

However it is they more than any other element in Ireland’s civil service who have steered our ship of state on to the rocks.  Cheering them on throughout have been uncritical elements in our media, above all in the editorial office of the Irish Times.

There is deep irony in the fact that their zeal for ever more EU integration has turned Ireland into a bomb inside the “infernal machine” of the Euro-currency, hastening its inevitable demise, and in the process possibly plunging much of the world into the second phase of a W-shaped recession.

Henceforth we should be more critical of what these people say when they enthuse for ever “more Europe”.

Anthony Coughlan – (01) 830 5792

Emmett O’Connell – (051) 565 844


(First published on Indymedia.ie)

News Updates: Irish Parliament Abdicates Legislation, Who are the Bond-Holders? EU Propaganda Junkets

Open Europe
Press Summary Archive
11 October 2010
http://www.openeurope.org.uk/media-centre/summary.aspx?id=1204

The Irish edition of the Sunday Times reported that Edmund Honohan, Master of the Irish High Court, has accused the Irish Parliament of failing to assert Irish legislation over new laws from Brussels and delegating much of the workload involved in scrutinising EU law to civil servants.


http://www.swp.ie/editorial/who-are-bond-holders/3669
Who are the Bond-holders?
SWP / Kieran Allen, 08/10/2010

‘We must re-assure the bondholders about the economy’. This line is trotted out daily in the Irish media. But who are these bondholders? The strange feature of current debates is that the Irish people never get told to whom we are supposed to pay all these debts […]

Last Saturday the Financial Times published data on bondholders for Irish government debt. The figures relate to July 2010 when European banks were asked to provide information to the Committee of European Banking Supervisors as part of a stress test. Although the data is a few months old, we may reasonably assume that the pattern has not changed when interest rates shot up to 6.5%. It should be noted that the figures below pertain only to Irish state debt. We still do not know who the bondholders of Anglo-Irish or the wider banking system because this is supposed to be ‘commercially secret’ information. Read it carefully and you will get an insight into the shocking skulduggery that is going on here.

TOP 10 BANKS WHO HOLD IRISH GOVERNMENT BONDS

    1. Royal bank of Scotland £4.3 billion
    2. Allied Irish banks €4.1 billion
    3. Bank of Ireland €1.2 billion
    4. Credit Agricole €929 million
    5. HSBC $816 million
    6. Danske Bank €655 million
    7. BNP Paribas €571 million
    8. Groupe BPCE €491 million
    9. Societe Generale €453 million
    10. Banco BP1 €408 million

The Royal Bank of Scotland is owned by the British government and Peter Sutherland was one of its directors until 2009. Sutherland often lectures the Irish population on the need for cutbacks – but he never reveals this link. The big surprise, however, is that the two biggest bondholders are Irish Banks. The people of Ireland have already put €7 billion in these two banks – but they then screw us twice by lending back our own money at higher interest rates. Imagine working class taxpayers delivering billions at the front door of the bank and then the directors scurrying around the back door to lend us back our own money and to call for more sacrifices. It is time to end this madness now.


http://synonblog.dailymail.co.uk/2010/10/is-this-how-the-eu-got-a-yes-to-lisbon-from-the-irish.html
Is this how the EU got a Yes to Lisbon from the Irish?
Daily Mail Ireland Online / Mary Ellen Synon, 7 October 2010

The European Commission has just flown 15 Irish journalists to Brussels for a two-day ‘information visit’. Or as those of us who know Brussels and talk straight would put it, for a two-day, two-night taxpayer-funded propaganda junket at a four-star hotel.

Ireland and the other eurozone countries might be suffering savage spending cuts, but the EU self-publicity budget thrives: in 2008 the Open Europe think-tank calculated that the EU was spending at least €2 billion a year on ‘information’.

Much of it bent, which is to say, propaganda. The commission actually admits that its information is bent. One of its publications declares: ‘Genuine communication by the European Union cannot be reduced to the mere provision of information.’

The EU propaganda machine pumps money into lobby groups that support ‘ever closer union’. They push propaganda into schools. And almost more than anything else, they target the Press. Journalists are offered ‘free’ trips and training (yes, just like Scientology offers training). The EU gives out cash prizes to on-message journalists.

A parliamentary Press official told me this week that a large number of Irish news organisations are given free flights to Strasbourg to cover the parliament, plus €360 in cash for expenses. (The Irish Daily Mail takes none of these taxpayer-funded handouts.)

 

[…]I got myself into the middle of it to hear what it was the commission and parliament propaganda machine would say to these 15 EU-innocents coming from Dublin. I cut the hotel and the other freebies – I live in Brussels – and stuck to the meetings. Meanwhile the journalists piled off their EU taxpayer-funded €377-a-head flight and into their EU taxpayer-funded rooms at the Hotel Manos Stephanie (’the Louis XV furniture, marble lobby and plentiful antiques set a standard of elegance rarely encountered,’ the hotel brags, and so it should since the rate is listed at €295 a night for a single room).

I said ‘No, thanks’ to the swish free lunch (well, not free to the taxpayers: it cost taxpayers €30 for each journo) in the private dining room at the European Parliament on Tuesday. It wasn’t hard to say No. The truth is I get gag-reflex when someone offers me taxpayer-funded food. I can never get that line from Abraham Lincoln out of my head, about the lure of ‘the same old serpent that says you work and I eat’.

I only wanted to be there to see how the propaganda machine would seek to mislead. For example: one theme that turned up in briefings on the economy was that the euro had nothing to do with Ireland’s economic disaster, nor indeed with any economic disaster anywhere in Europe.

Yet it was the low interest rates of the early years of the euro that set fire to our property bubble. It was the illusion of eurozone convergence that allowed our banks to suck in billions from saver-countries such as Germany.

The propaganda orthodoxy in the EU will admit no such damage. What the Irish journalists were given this week was the Bart Simpson excuse for the damage done by the euro: ‘I didn’t do it. Nobody saw me.’ This wasn’t information, it was a propaganda pitch.

[…] One of the meetings the Press officers had arranged was a session with five Irish members of the European Parliament.
[…] I thought I’d try to put the concerns of these politicians about the economy into Brussels-perspective. Remember, we were talking to politicians who will bank a half-million euros just from their salaries over the course of this parliament. Last year I added up some of the perks they get on top, everything from daily allowances to business-class air travel to medical allowances to free disposable contact lenses to reimbursement for 60 sessions a year of mud baths. Being an MEP is a lotto win. How do you stay in sympathy with the unemployed in West Dublin with a life like that?

So I asked the five MEPs to justify the decision last week by the parliament’s budget committee to increase the MEPs’ entertainment budget for 2011 by 85 per cent. How could they justify that, given the suffering of people across Europe?

The five said they’d heard about no such thing. Mr de Rossa even denied there was an entertainment budget for MEPs. He suggested that newspapers had made up the story.

Since I was one of the journalists who had reported the story, I knew it had not been made up. I’d had my information from Marta Andreasen, an MEP who is a professional accountant. More to the point, she is a member of the parliament’s Budget Committee.

Here are the figures, as from this professional accountant: the MEPs’ entertainment budget for next year has jumped from €1,105,200 to €

2,047,450. Yet the five Irish MEPs at this propaganda-fest denied it in front of 15 Dublin journalists plus me. Unless I could identify the exact budget line for them right then, the MEPs said they wouldn’t admit such a thing could have happened.

The other journalists, unused to the ways of the parliament, couldn’t make anything of it. But I will give credit to Mairéad McGuinness, who, despite being indignant about my suggestion, had her staff check it. She came back to me a couple of hours later with a piece of paper showing the figures for a budget line labelled ‘Entertainment and representation expenses’. There it was: the huge jump in the entertainment budget that the Irish MEPs had all earlier denied could exist.

Half the eurozone is bleeding to death, but the MEPs will take a jump next year of 85 per cent for their ‘entertainment’.

[…]When Miss Day brought her comments around to the new so-called European External Action Service (the euphemism for the new EU diplomatic corps which is going to lead to the closing of many Irish embassies around the world), she assured the Dublin journalists that this vast army of diplomats and embassies would in fact be ‘revenue neutral, except for the first year.’

I waited for someone to ask, ‘But what about the first year, then?’ None of them did. I realised that even the sharp ones weren’t used to listening to eurocrats’ slimy-speak. If they’d asked (I didn’t, it was 6 pm and I was losing the will to go on), and if she’d given a straight answer, the Irish journalists would have learned the shocking truth.

What her propaganda pitch didn’t mention about Catherine Ashton’s new empire was that the new service is in raging cost-overrun. It is going to head for at least ¤33 million over its ¤455 million budget this year already – and it hasn’t even been launched yet.

Thirty-three million over budget in one year, and that is just called a failure to be ‘revenue neutral’. As I said, eurocrats’ slimy-speak. It’s the painful torture of a life in Brussels.

The EU-innocents last night boarded their flight back to Dublin. Before they left, I asked three of them if they’d felt their trip was a good use of taxpayers’ money. All three agreed it was.

I may ask them again after they see the tax increases that Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has planned for them in the next Budget. How strange that some journalists haven’t figured it out yet: there really is no such thing as a free lunch. Just like there’s no such thing as EU ‘information’.

Anthony Coughlan on the Eamon Dunphy Show

Audio file:

  • 100521_NewsTalk_Dunphy_Coughlan: Eamon Dunphy (”The Eamon Dunphy Show”: NewsTalk106fm) has Anthony Coughlan on with his panel of guests, to discuss the Irish and European economies, and the trials and tribulations of the Euro☚ (time -19:20; format – M4a/Quicktime/iTunes; date – May 16, 2010);

To access via iTunes, either:

Rescuing Banks and rich Greeks … The slow demise of the euro

www.spiegel.de/international/germany/0,1518,695245,00.html
05/18/2010 03:54 PM
Former Central Bank Head Karl Otto Pöhl
Bailout Plan Is All About ‘Rescuing Banks and Rich Greeks’

The 750 billion euro package the European Union passed last week to prop up the common currency has been heavily criticized in Germany. Former Bundesbank head Karl Otto Pöhl told SPIEGEL that Greece may ultimately have to opt out, and that the foundation of the euro has been fundamentally weakened.


www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=109323
The slow demise of Europe’s single currency looks certain
MATTHEW LYNN
Business Day / Bloomberg
2010/05/19

THE time for tough decisions is here. In the next few months, the members of the euro area will have to make a choice: form a genuine fiscal and political union or let the euro die a slow death.

The European Union (EU) realises the Greek crisis has revealed great flaws in the common currency. There is no point trying to fudge it. The euro can be rescued only by a sweeping centralisation of control over tax and spending.

There’s just one snag: a single economic government for the euro area is not going to work. The surrender of national sovereignty is too great. The timing is all wrong. And there is still no realistic mechanism for enforcing whatever new rules are made in Frankfurt or Brussels.

Two top economists in New York Times highlight folly of Ireland’s economic policy

economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/20/irish-miracle-or-mirage/
Irish Miracle – Or mirage?
Peter Boone and Simon Johnson
Economix
New York Times
Friday 21 May 2010

(Peter Boone is chairman of the charity Effective Intervention and a research associate at the Center for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics. He is also a principal in Salute Capital Management Ltd. Simon Johnson, the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, is the co-author of “13 Bankers.”)

With the European Central Bank announcing that it has bought more than $20 billion of mostly high-risk euro-zone government debt in one week, its new strategy is crystal clear: We will take the risk from bank balance sheets and give it to the central bank, and we expect Portugal-Ireland-Italy-Greece-Spain to cut fiscal spending sharply and pull themselves out of this mess through austerity.

But the bank’s head, Jean-Claude Trichet, faces a potential major issue: the task assigned to the profligate nations could be impossible. Some of these nations may be stuck in a downward debt spiral that makes greater economic decline ever more likely…

… reland’s politicians, rather than facing up to their problems, are making things ever worse. Simply put, the Irish miracle was a mirage driven by clever use of tax-haven rules and a huge credit boom that permitted real estate prices and construction to grow quickly before declining ever more rapidly. The biggest banks grew to have assets twice the size of official G.D.P. when they essentially failed in 2008. The government has now made a fateful choice: rather than make creditors pay some part of the losses, it is taking the bank debt onto the national balance sheet, effectively ballooning its already large sovereign debt. Irish taxpayers are set to be left with the risk of very large payments to make on someone else’s real estate deals gone bad.

There is no simple escape, but if the government hopes to avoid a sovereign default, the one overriding priority should be to stop bailing out the banks. Instead, the government should wind down existing banks in a “bad bank,” while moving their deposit base and profitable businesses into new, well-capitalized banks that can function without a taxpayer burden. This will be messy, but it is far better than a sovereign default.

Second, the Irish must take the tough fiscal steps that will be required under any circumstances. The International Monetary Fund and the European Union have made clear that funding is available to Ireland – so the government should use this to bridge the tough journey of fiscal cuts ahead.

Finally, the Irish need to consider seriously whether being in the euro zone is worth the cost. The adjustment to this awful situation would be far easier outside the euro zone – even though leaving the zone might have adverse repercussions for other nations. Once again, a comprehensive program with European Union and I.M.F. support might make this the least worse option.
Given the depths of Ireland’s problems, it is no wonder the markets are looking with skepticism at the announced bailout package for the entire euro zone provided by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Policy makers are still not dealing with the core problems of each nation in the euro zone. With the debt hangovers remaining, who will want to invest in Europe’s periphery, and so how can Greece, let alone Ireland, grow? One thing we can be sure of: Europe’s political leaders are doomed to be spending much more time at emergency meetings in Brussels over the coming months and years.

Thinking the Unthinkable on the euro crisis

From www.german-foreign-policy.com Newsletter, 12 May 2010 .

BERLIN: Following the passage of the 750 billion Euro bailout package, the debate on Germany’s leaving the EU monetary union has become more intense. Business representatives confirm that German industry, which exports heavily to other countries within the Euro zone, has up to now greatly benefited from the common currency. If an austerity program can be successfully imposed on Southern Europe, establishing a pan-European economic “model” patterned on Germany, the Euro will remain advantageous for Germany. But strong resistance is expected from Greece and other countries. If expensive transfer payments cannot be avoided, it may become necessary “to think the unthinkable” of Germany “leaving the monetary union” writes the business press.

In the long run, Germany’s withdrawal from the Euro zone is, in fact, highly probable, Swedish economics scholar Stefan de Vylder tells german-foreign-policy.com. The first insinuations about the probable consequences indicate that serious tensions can be expected in Europe.

Dr De Vylder is former professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, former chief economist at the Swedish International Development Authority and currently runs his own economic consultancy in Stockholm.

Dr Stefan de Vylder: Greece has until now been the ideal scapegoat. […]
There are a large number of culprits which either have contributed directly to the crisis or failed to warn against it, let alone do something about it […]

But from a macroeconomic perspective, the biggest single problem is Germany… the country’s huge current account surplus makes it virtually impossible for the majority of EMU countries whose international competitiveness has become eroded to solve their problems […]

If Greece were to be thrown out of the euro zone – which in the long run would be good for the country – no structural problem for the entire currency union would be solved…

[…] Although it is perfectly true that a currency union such as EMU, which by definition has a single rate of interest and a single rate of exchange, would need a far-reaching coordination of economic policies to function even moderately well… attempts to create an “economic government” within the EU would probably accelerate the road to disaster.

[…] I would be extremely surprised if today’s euro zone members are still members ten years from now. Extremely surprised… The European peoples’ sense of solidarity is at stake.

If one or several of the weaker countries were to leave the euro zone, the price they would have to pay is likely to be very high (in the short run)…

Germany does not need the euro to maintain its international competitiveness and excellent access to international credit markets. So my forecast is that Germany one day will decide that it is in the best interest of the country – and in the interest of the weaker euro zone countries as well! – to leave the currency union.

… Another scenario would be the creation of a smaller currency union between a few member states… and let the others go back to their own currencies.

… compared to defending an extremely poorly designed monetary union, I think the price would be worth paying…

For further information see: www.german-foreign-policy.com Newsletter, 12 May 2010 .

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